BC voters are moving beyond their government

Plain Rhetoric
By Bill McQuarrie
April 4, 2017 - 5:00am

KAMLOOPS — May 9, 2017 - BC Liberals lose election.  Confirming what many predicted would be a tight race; John Horgan leads the NDP to a victory of sorts with a minority government. Many are already speculating on the need for Horgan to form a coalition with the Green Party if he intends to hang onto power.

That could be the headline you see on the morning after May 9 and this is how I think Christy Clark’s government took that beating it wasn’t expecting. Matter of fact, it was the “wasn’t expecting” attitude that might be the key to this crash and burn the Liberals could actually experience.

As Joe Biden recently noted, “The public has moved beyond their government,” and it is something many governments and the BC Liberals in particular have failed to understand or accept.  

The voters, with access to more information than ever before, have observed, learned and in many cases moved on. Despite this, many political parties have inexplicably remained frozen in a time warp, in a bygone era of information control and it is a world that no longer exists. The days of bluster, bafflegab, fake promises and sleight of hand announcements are gone.

You could get away with what I’ve called, ‘foghorn politics’ back in the days when whistle stop electioneering was the M.O. of any politician worth his bombastic swagger. It was a time where what you said or promised in one town could be altered to suit the audience in the next with no one being the wiser.  

The digital age has changed that reality. Communications including both real and fake news are instant. Google offers a means of fact checking in a matter of moments. Background information can be accessed 24/7 and voters are not stupid. They weren’t stupid back then either but source checking at the level we now have simply wasn’t available and that gave control to the politicians and their spin doctors.

Political parties have certainly recognized the value of the Internet Age, but seem stuck in a mindset that sees it as just an inexpensive tool for campaign marketing. What they fail to realize in this information age is, as Marshall McLuhan once pointed out, “The medium is the message.”

The medium, in this case the Internet, has become the true social enabler and we no longer passively sit and watch or read the news. We now engage, question, participate or use the simplest but fastest enabler of them all — click on ‘like.’  The medium has given us the tools to move forward and in so doing, wrest (message) control from government.

We the public now know how much and how often private companies have paid for a chance to directly lobby the premier or government. We know how the RCMP is investigating Christy Clark and her government. When the government uses our tax dollars for pre-election advertising, we watch the news story while simultaneously watching an archived news clip on Twitter of the same Christy Clark calling out the NDP for spending $700,000 on government advertising.

Joe Biden gets it, noting how the GOP was so obsessed with their newfound power and so focused on getting even with Obama (Affordable Health Care Act) that they forgot about the people they supposedly represent. That misstep cost them dearly.

A government consumed with the need and lust for control and power eventually ignores those they are meant to represent. Well thought out policy and good intent is replaced with a constant need to dominate your opponent and it’s not long before everyone is viewed as that opponent. All of us become the foe needing to be controlled and managed no matter the cost, ethics or loss of moral values.

“Nothing to see here,” says the premier. “Our budget is balanced. The NDP hacked our computers. LNG will save us. Nothing wrong with taking money from corporations and even other countries.” It’s a long list of claims and assertions that people decided to verify.

How then could you not expect trouble at the ballot box? There was no longer an information gatekeeper and the pre-election claims would suggest the BC Liberals were caught unaware when many discovered the emperor had no clothes. And as Biden said, they moved on.